Question & Answer Wednesday, 12/21/2011

 Question and Answer Wednesday – Your questions answered!

A couple of years ago I used to publish a weekly Q&A post where I would answer some of the questions sent in by readers. With questions flooding my inbox every day, and many of them asking the same things, I figured I would bring this back so those asking can see the answers here because I can not get to all of the e-mails. If I did I would not have time to do any reviews! So here are some recent questions that were sent to me.

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Question: Hi Steve – Would you choose the Panasonic DMC-G3 or DMC-GF3 – I understand the Viewfinder vs no viewfinder but with  a smaller Megapixel count and same sensor on the GF3 would you not get more density per pixel sensor with the gF3 – I now this matters little in composition, digital pictures – but I would actually like smaller pictures ( if you can call 12 megapixels  small) as I have a M9 for when I need the larger files. 

The question – Does megapixel density matter ? With the same sensor in two camera why would you choose large megapixel ? Best, Gordon

Answer: Hi Gordon, thanks for the question. First and foremost, if I were choosing between the Panasonic G3 or GF3 it would be no contest. The G3 would win. Not only due to the EVF, but due to the fact that the new sensor in the G3 is a better performer, even due to the fact that it is higher in MP count. The GF3 has good output but feels more like a point and shoot camera and has the older sensor without an EVF. I feel having an EVF in these cameras really helps and makes the shooting experience much better, for me anyway.

To answer your “question”, megapixel density DOES matter in most cases but in the case of the G3/GF3 I feel the larger MP sensor is better overall, and it is but mainly because it is the newer sensor and technology is constantly evolving. But if Panasonic took that same sensor in the G3 and turned it in to a 21 MP sensor then yes, the noise would increase and you would even lose some Dynamic Range. I actually prefer lower MP on larger sensors for this reason.

I feel the Megapixel race is coming to an end as more and more camera manufacturers are choosing lower MP count. For example, Canons new full frame 1dx comes in at 18MP (same as the Leica M9) which is less than the 21 of the previous model. Instead of going up to 30, they lowered the MP count to 18. Nikon also went with the slower MP count on the V1, sticking with 10MP. If they would have went to 16MP on that small sensor it would have been a disaster.

The bottom line though is that technology is always evolving and they are finding ways to improve sensor performance every day and with every camera release.


Question: Any chance of a review of the Panasonic 25 1.4 Micro 4/3 lens? Thanks, Steve

Answer: This lens JUST NOW arrived to me, over a month late. So yes, the review will be coming soon! Sorry for the delays!


Question:  What do you recommend for low light shooting with good autofocus? Sony nex 5n or 7? How will Olympus offerings work? Will a fast lens like the sony 50mm 1.8 improve AF on the nex? Also can the new Panasonic/leica 25mm 1.4 help improve AF on the ep3 in low light shooting? Thanks in for the site and info. Also thanks for the enthusiasm, its contagious. James

Answer: Hey James! Thanks for the question. To me, in real use, the NEX-5n seemed snappier with AF but it is probably super close or equal to the NEX-7. I did not have them side by side with the E lenses mounted so really so hard to say. The Olympus E-P3 is faster to AF than the NEX cameras , especially with the newer Oly lenses like the 12mm and 45 1.8. The Panasonic 25 1.4 will NOT make the Olympus focus faster , in fact, it will focus a tad slower than the other two lenses I just mentioned. In real shooting, the 5n and E-P3 will be close though. Lenses are better for Micro 4/3 but the Sony has the APS- sensor which will excel in low light. If fast and accurate AF is what you are after, try out a V1. It is fantastic with AF, Speed, and overall accuracy.


Question: Nikon D7000 vs the Leica D-Lux 5. How different is the quality of the images in these 2 cameras? The simplicity and convenience of this Leica appeals to me, but I wonder if I would be sacrificing a lot of quality by choosing this Leica over the D7000!! Thanks in advance for your speedy response.

Answer: Plain and simple. The D7000 will give you MUCH better image quality. The D-Lux 5 is great in good light but you lose low light performance, you lose depth of field control, you lose the lens choices, video will be better on the 7000 and overall file quality, even in good light will go to the 7000.

BUT

You also GAIN something with the 5, and that is size and the fact that the camera will go with you everywhere you go (if you want to take it). It is easy to grab and go and with the D7000, you may start leaving it at home due to size and weight. I guess it all comes down to what you want to use the camera for. Pro use? D7000. Landscapes and serious shooting for prints? D7000. Fun family snaps and everyday snapshots? Id go D-Lux 5.

Remember the D-Lux 5 is basically a point and shoot but a little more advanced with its rich feature set. The sensor is small in this camera so you will not get the same rich quality that you would from a D7000. Also, low light shooting is not going to work well with the smaller 5, but the 7000 is fantastic in low light/high ISO.


Question: Message: Hi Steve, I love your site; hugely informative (I just found it a few days ago). 

Question: I want to get a small camera for everyday use. I don’t want a DSLR for one main reason; I can’t take them into concerts (not allowed). I love the mirror less cameras (don’t have one yet) and think that is my leaning. So, my normal use will be primarily concerts and travel. I am not a professional BTW so this is just for my pleasure.

Money around $2000.

I see that you use (other than the awesome M9) the Olympus and the Fuji and about decided on the Olympus (because of the interchangeable lens capability) but then wondered if some of the new offerings would cause you to “upgrade”. I see that you are in line for the NEX-7 and I would get that in a heartbeat…but unavailable and I have a trip to Kilimanjaro in February and I’m concerned… So, with that said, can you recommend a camera?

Considerations:
Concerts; low light, good autofocus and telephoto need – Travel: (landscape, buildings) zoom, clarity, interchangeable lenses.

I would appreciate ANY feedback.

BTW, I am a tad more than a novice with decent understanding of ISO, aperture, speed, depth of field, etc (so I’m after more than a
point-and-shoot)

Answer: Hmmm. Well, I have shot with every mirrorless camera on the market and reviewed 90% of them. At the end of the day, my absolute favorite to shoot with has been the Nikon V1 mainly due to its almost foolproof way it pumps out the images. But the V1 will not give you the rich file quality of say a Fuji X100 or NEX-7 which has a larger sensor because the V1 has a smaller (but damn good) sensor. With that said, if you want to shoot concerts, and need something that will work for you in low light with fast and accurate AF that sort of rules out the NEX system as there really are no great Zooms for the system. The 18-200 is a good lens but the resulting images do not have much character or style and the lens is HUGE. Flat is the term I am thinking when I remember the images I shot with that lens on a NEX-5.

The E-P3 from Olympus has all kinds of lenses available but will not do so hot in a concert setting (I tried) as the images will be noisy, lack dynamic range and just will not be as good as those from a larger sensor. The sensor in the E-P3 is now showing its age, especially in situations like concerts and low light. Still, it is a fantastic camera for street, people, etc.

When you mentioned “Travel, zoom, clarity and interchangeable lenses” I kept saying “V1”  to myself as the Nikon has all of that. The 30-110 Zoom is fantastic. Sharp, clear, great color, built in VR. For travel it is smallish, built like a tank and has a great EVF built in for those sunny days when the LCD will be washed-out. It has a smaller sensor but the files are full of clarity when you nail the shot (good light, decent shutter speed) and the color is great as well. The lenses are sparse right now with only a 10, 10-30, 30-110 and 10-100 video lens but more will be showing up in 2012.

The only problem with the V1 for most people is the small sensor will not give you the 100% smooth and noise free images when you view them at 100%, and it is 10MP which doesn’t leave room for cropping really.

The best camera IQ wise would be the NEX-7 if you can deal with the larger zoom lenses and slower AF, not so accurate metering and the Sony color palette. Shoot the 7 RAW and the IQ is damn impressive. Maybe a reader here can pitch in their recommendation as well. It’s never easy choosing a camera and all you can do is judge based on your personal needs.

If you can do without a zoom and just a fixed lens, the X100 would get my vote as it has the IQ that beats them all (though is slower to use and AF). The image below was shot at a concert with the X100 and it did well. You just have to be close.


Question: Message: Hello Steve, I have the option of getting a brand new fuji x100 or a second hand Leica x1 for the same price . No shops near me stock them so I can’t try them out first. Which one would you go for ? I prefer the layout of the x100 and I like the fact it has a view finder . Although I have heard the Image quality is better on the x1 . Im just unsure about it and your are the only person I have seen that has owned both cameras . I would appreciate a reply . Thank you very much Stuart.

Answer: Well, I have owned both of these cameras at the same time, TWICE. I have to say, both times I let the X1 go and kept the X100 though I wish I could afford to just keep an X1 on hand because there are days Id like to shoot with it because I love its style and form. The IQ of the X1 is not really any better than the X100, just a little different in its rendering. The X1 lens is a little better/sharper as the X100 doesn’t do its best until F/4. If I was faced with your choice of a new X100 or used X1 Id have to go with the new X100 at this point due to the awesome EVF, Leica style body, great color and dynamic range, macro performance and superb high ISO performance. The X100 beats the X1 in many ways but the X1 still has some serious MOJO as well and if it had a built in EVF like the X100 I’d be saying go for the X1.

One thing to keep in mind is that the X100 has had some issues recently with sticky aperture blades and there have been tons of X100 shooters who have had to send their X100’s back to Fuji for repair. Not sure if they fixed this issue yet. The X1 never had any such issues. Decisions decisions!


Question: Hello Steve…first off, kudos on the incredible site! I am a recent point-n-shoot graduate and purchased a nex-3 [linked from your site for support 😉 ] with both the 16mm and 18-55mm lens kits. I am actually going to pass that camera down to my brother and pick up the nex-5n based on the review you recently made. My question may seem dumb, and I apologize with my lack for photographic verbiage, but I am wondering what the “best” lens options are for the NEX that are under the $700 mark. I enjoyed shooting with the 18-55mm, but that may be my inexperience speaking. I do not like the 16mm, as most of my images were dull and seemed no better than an average point-n-shoot.

I guess you’re question for me may be, what I am looking to shoot? I would like a zoom feature as well as a fixed focal lens to get the nice blurred backgrounds (SLR Magic 35mm?? or is there a better lens?)

Anyway, I apologize for my naivety but really value your opinion as I follow all of your posts. Thanks again and I look forward to living
vicariously thru your Leica lens!!

Answer: Thanks for your support! As for the lenses, there really are not many lens choices for the NEX system. The 18-55 you already have, and that lens seems to perform even better on the 5n so I would keep that one for sure. Then there is the 16mm, the Zeiss 24 1.8, the new Sony macro 30mm, the 50 1.8 and 18-200 and 55-210 zooms. The other NEX mount offerings are from SLR Magic but keep in mind that they are manual focus only.

Maybe keeping the 18-55 and picking up the 30 Macro and 50 would do the trick. This would be under your budget of $700. If you can stretch to $1000, the Zeiss 24 1.8 would be a great lens to own for the 5n.


Question: Dear Steve, I shoot on the run, often in low light, and in situations where I need to either focus quickly or use auto focus to capture people in subways, on the street, in bars, in boxing rings, etc. I currently shoot with the Canon Mark II 5D. I need a smaller camera that will be QUIETER to use in Cuba next month. My Canon attracts a lot of attention because of its size, that of the lenses and the sound of the shutter.

Frankly, I am a bit old school and get overwhelmed with all the computations and gears on digital cameras and am still playing catch
up in that respect. The simpler the camera the better. I enlarge my photos to 6ft+ for exhibitions and do not do much photoshop work on
the images. I would be VERY grateful for your recommendations on camera and lens! Warm regards, Kathy

Answer: TOUGH ONE. Maybe some of the readers here can chime in with suggestions. I would have said the Nikon V1, no contest. That is..until you said you print 6ft+ for exhibitions. Not sure the 10MP files from the V1 could handle that one.

Then you said, quiet and simple and I thought LEICA M9 but not sure you want to spend that much. An M9 with fast lens can shoot just about anywhere and I can focus just as fast with my M9 than most small cameras can AF.

So..quiet, smaller than a DSLR, low light, not attention grabbing and ability to print 6ft+ large without much photoshop. Does this camera exist? Besides the Leica M9 I am not so sure it does.

If the M is out of the question I’d go for either a NEX-5n or NEX-7. Id even be as daring to give the Nikon V1 a shot with the 10 2.8 and see how it goes.

 

Look for more Q&A next Wednesday! If you want to see your questions answered here, send them to me with the subject “Q&A Wednesday” to my e-mail HERE.

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25 Comments

  1. @Steve: you wrote…’The best camera IQ wise would be the NEX-7…’ Well did you ever see the results of a Sigma DP2x? Sure the camera has a lot of cons, but talking about IQ I think it is the best in this league.

  2. Re Kathy’s question: What about the Ricoh GXR? Smaller than a DSLR, awesome sensors (A12 units), great GR lenses on the 50 mm & 28 mm & the ability to mount Leica M lenses on the M-Mount module…….How ‘s the low light performance?

  3. Steve, Thanks a lot . Spot on! it was the lens. Returned and got a new 24 and its simply WOW! seems like a new camera. Check the one test shot I took in the store , hand held. the details are incredible! [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/rgaurava/6558562659/[/img][img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/rgaurava/6558562707/in/photostream/[/img]

  4. Hi Steve,
    regarding the concert camera and the Cuba camera I would consider also the Panasonic GH2.
    This camera has a very fast AF (if you’re using an appropriate lens) and performs also very well in low light situation.
    I know the body looks like a DSLR and not like a Leica style camera, but anyway it is a very small sample (sometimes too small for my big fingers 😉
    I’m very happy with my choice. My backup camera is my pre owned Olympus Pen 1. I still use the old Olympus kit lens and the wide angle lens 9-18. Both are very compact and are working very well on my GH2. This is an advantage of an open micro 4/3 standard.

    Now I have to leave my desk to go shooting….. 😉
    Happy holidays!
    Ralph

  5. What has been happening with the gentleman who won the m9? Is he ever going to write a guest report upon his experiences and feelings towards the camera… Maybe share some photo’s?

  6. Hi Steve, I am totally new RF convert. Sold my D700 + 8 lens + all other accessories and bought a M9 plus a used 28 f2.0 and 90 f2.5. So far its been a 20% success and 80% failures but better than 5% that I started with :). I am in queue on almost all of san francisco/bay area camera store for the 35 Lux ASPH and the ETA is almost 3 months if I am lucky.
    Photography is a pure hobby for me with no commercial aspect involved. I am insanely crazy about sharpness and color reproduction.

    Question for you would be

    – Even while mounted on a tripod i am not able to get a super sharp image as expected. i am saving it in RAW. For every image I have to manually increate the sharpness setting in LR3 to +50 – +60. Is that normal?

    – In you this picture http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/L10021101.jpg , what amount of post processing you had to do?

    – In general what should be a general technique to improve you RF focusing accuracy?

    Any advice would really help.

    • (Pardon me for jumping in here)

      Generally, RAW’s need sharpening. That’s not a big deal. Being out of focus is another matter. Lke you I got an M9 kit this year. The more I use it, the more often I get in focus images. I think it is important to shoot frequently, in a variety of settings. Learn hyper focal distances and focus if you shoot in dynamic settings and just won’t have time to focus the traditional way.

      The tradeoff for shooting wide open (bokeh) is minimal DOF, depending upon your distance to the subject of course.

      It’s a learning game for sure! Best of luck.

      • @Bob

        Thanks for the info. I am getting pretty good results from the 90 Summicorn. For some reason the 28 mm at infinity or zone focusing has most of the misses. Will keep trying.

    • If you are not getting sharp images even using a tripod, and shooting RAW then either one of your lenses is off or your body is slightly off. Id bet money on it. Ive seen it so many times. Id say it is the body slightly out of calibration. The image you linked to of mine was actually one that was out of focus slightly (using a noctilux before I had the body calibrated). I had to apply a load of sharpening to it to save it.

  7. I’m really looking forward to the Panasonic Leica 25mm review!

    Two questions that I’d really like to hear your opinion on in the full review:
    – Do the performance and rendering qualify it as a “real” Leica?
    – If you already had the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, would it be worth it to buy the 25mm?

    One more question: when are we going to see the return of the famous Steve Huff Crystal Ball? =D

    Happy holidays!

  8. Thanks for these q/a sessions Steve , very informative. Enjoy your holidays and can’t wait for what you have planned for 2012.

  9. Question: “Dear Steve, I shoot on the run, often in low light, and in situations where I need to either focus quickly or use auto focus to capture people in subways . . . I need a smaller camera that will be QUIETER to use in Cuba next month.”

    Answer: Use the Canon 5DII, but don’t hold it up to your eye. Practise pointing it in the direction you want, while holding it down by your side, and then squeezing the shutter button. If people don’t see you holding it up and pointing it at them, they’ll hardly notice the sound or where the sound’s come from. You don’t say which lenses you use, but a wide-angle is almost certain to get the focus right, even when you’re holding it down by your hip. Practise looking away somewhere else while you squeeze the shutter, too.

    – David.

    • The X100 is even QUITER than the Leica M9…
      a Canon 5D is awesome in IQ… but heavy and fat… and in a coutry like Cuba could be a little bit hey look at me… Im a photographer! no matter in wich part of your body iys gonna be a problem…
      The retro looks of the X100 will match perfectly the city of la Habana will deliver that vivid colors to the pictures.
      If night is the situation… just increase the ISO to 3200, close the aperture down to f8 and use a shutter speed of 1/30 of a second, set manual focus to a mid range and let’s see what happens…

      • If you cannot afford the Leica M9, I’d recommend the NEX 5N with a couple Voigtlander lenses. I’ve owned both the Canon 5D and the Canon 5D MkII (personally I liked the look of the 5D better). But, when I compare my old 5D or 5D MK II files to the Sony NEX 5N, especially under ISO 1600, I don’t think the Canon is necessarily better. Yes, Canon has a ‘special’ color look to it, but the Sony has a much purer and more neutral (yet can be beefed up if you shoot RAW) color. And when shooting B&W which is what I do a lot of, the tonal range is beautiful with very little post-processing. And the Voigtlander lenses, for the price especially, are amazing! I own the 21mm f/4 and even sharper than that is the 35mm f/2.5 (sharp wide open), which I also own.

        • PS: The shutter on the NEX 5N is amazing. It is not only instant, but has a great sound and feel. I’ve been shooting for 30 years and it is one of the best I’ve ever used. Besides that, it’s very quiet. I’ve shot right behind subjects and they never noticed me, nor turned around. And the camera with the Voigtlander lenses is tiny and non-threatening like the huge Canon. I shot an entire book over 4 years time with the Canon 5D and the 24-105 and it was tough to conceal. With the NEX 5N, I look like a tourist and nobody gives me a second thought.

          • Nice… I´ve never shot with a 5N plus Voightlander Lenses… I bet it’s a nice combo… the bad thing about the Nex system bodies is that they look and feel more like an electronic gadget than a classic camera… don’t you think?

  10. Hey Steve… nice Q&A… help us a lot!
    on the last one I was specting to you to recommend once again the Fujifilm X100… and here is why I think that camera would please Kathy:

    1.- Its 1200 USD agains 7K for the body only of the M9
    2.- Elegant, Discrete, Simple and Retro Design
    3.- 12.3 MP and large sensor agains the smaller Nikon’s 1 system (Not as LARGE as the M9 but again 2K agains 7K
    4.- Wonderful out of the camera colors and b/w
    5.- rather than the M9, the X100 is the most artistic like camera… sometimes in art, blur and out of focus can be considered expresive, organic and live… this is for all of the heaters of the X100 that are complaining agains its “slow” focusing speed.
    6.- and last advive to Kathy… consider printing you pictures a little bit smaller and the X100 will shine in your hands!

  11. Hi Steve, long time listener, first time caller ! Ok, you are allowed just one lens to use on your Leica M9 for the rest of your days. What would you choose and why ?

    • Hmmmmm. That is tough. After years trying them all, Id have to say if I can have just ONE it would be a 35 Lux ASPH II. It’s a classic focal length, forces me to get in closer to my subjects, has a fast aperture and the rendering is incredible. Cant complain about anything with this lens. I do not own one due to cost/availability but if I could buy one today I would.

      • Agreed with Steve, and I own that lens. If you are a wide shooter, the 35 lux asph II (FLE) is the way to go. If you are more of a 50 mm shooter, then the 50 lux asph is the other option. Another great stand alone lens is the 35 lux asph (pre FLE), which is lovely all on its own, with a high price tag not dissimilar to the FLE).

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